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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Top Five Toe Tips

It’s estimated that in a lifetime you would have walked three times around the earth. No wonder our feet start to ache and show signs of wear and tear as we age.

Here are five toe tips that should be a part of every aged care facility’s daily regime to help improve the foot health, mobility of their residents and reduce that wear and tear.

  1. Wash the Feet

Washing the feet on a daily basis will help remove any irritants or debris that might have been picked up on the soles of the feet. Wash with tepid water, not hot. Hot water will dry the skin further, as will vigorous rubbing.

  1. Dry in Between the Toes

The whole foot should be dried thoroughly particularly in between the toes. The crevices of the skin between the toes can become waterlogged resulting in soggy/macerated tissue which can lead to the skin breaking down and ultimately infection.

  1. Moisturise the Feet

As you age the oil secreting glands in the skin become less active resulting dry skin. It is therefore necessary to keep our skin supple and resilient to damage by applying an emollient. Many commercial creams are water-based and our ineffective at keeping the skin moisturised. Check the label of any foot lotion you purchase. If the basic ingredient is water, pass that one up and go for an emollient instead. Look for emollients that contain lanolin, coconut oil, or shea butter as these ingredients bind to water trapping moisture in the skin.

Apply emollient to the whole foot and remove any excess from in between the toes to prevent maceration.

  1. Inspect the Feet Daily for any Signs of Trauma

Inspecting the feet on a daily basis will help detect any trouble spots before they turn serious. The best time to do this would be during or after showering. Check the feet for any signs of trauma such as redness, blisters, bruises, cuts, swelling or colour changes. Also look for sharp toenails, ingrown toes nails, corns, calluses or anything that does not look normal or wasn’t there yesterday. All concerns should be reported to the podiatrist.

  1. Exercise

Poor circulation can impair healing, increase the risk of ulcers and infection and in worst cases result in gangrene and amputations. It can also be one of the causes of thickening of the toenails and fungal nail infections.

Daily walking can help improve circulation and reduce the risks mentioned above. However, if a resident is unable to ambulate the alphabet workout is an alternative exercise that can be completed in a bed or chair. Have the resident draw each letter of the alphabet in capital letters beginning at the letter “A” by moving the ankle and using the big toe as the “tip of the pencil”. Make a note of the letter they reached and have them swap feet. Make it a daily activity, always start on the letter “A” and encourage the resident to pass the letter they previously reached. This exercise also helps strengthen the calves, ankles and the arches of the feet.

If these tips are used on a daily basis they will help reduce ulceration, infections, foot deformity and hospitalisations of your residents and will ultimately improve their health and mobility.

This article was also published on the Aged Care Australia website. Please click on the link below to view article. The article is on page 74-77.